As vacuous and underhanded as many Americans see the 2012 presidential election, looked at from Iraq and the emerging Arab Spring countries, the campaign between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is a shining beacon of civilized democratic conduct. For the Iraq newspaper Al-Sabaah, columnist Ali Jassem compares the American campaign to the current state of politics in Iraq and the Arab world, and holds out the U.S. model as ‘the pinnacle of sophistication and constructive dialogue between ruler and ruled, and between opposing parties involved in an honest and healthy battle for power.’
For Al-Sabaah, Ali Jassem starts out this way:
Western presidential elections, and in particular, those in the United States, which are generally held every four years, represent the democratic summit of modern civilization. In providing for a pre-determined presidential term of four years for the performance of the duties assigned to him, they represent the pinnacle of sophistication and constructive dialogue between ruler and ruled, and between opposing parties involved in an honest and healthy battle for power. Regardless of whether his previous occupation was as a doctor, manual laborer or businessman, the same rules apply to vote or be eligible for the presidency. The office cannot be obtained via military coups like those that regularly occur in African countries, or through assassination, as often occurs in Latin America, or through vote rigging, as is so common to the Arab region, or through elections that were held as a form of entertainment by Iraq’s Saddamists before the political change!
At the end of each presidential term, we watch with amazement – we being the millions of Arabs and Asians deprived of any form of democracy, even the fictional kind. We watch the competition between the outgoing president (Obama now) and his leading opponent (now Mitt Romney) through glamorous and well-produced video clips. The competition begins with campaign advertisements funded by individuals and firms that support the parties. The ads are public and can be viewed any time, and are funded without government resources.
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